What is Visual Voicemail, and Do I Need it?

16 November 2017

What is Visual Voicemail, and Do I Need it?

You may have noticed that certain carriers offer something called visual voicemail as part of their plans. 

Many carriers include this feature for free, while others offer it as an upgrade. So what is visual voicemail, and is it worth the extra money? 

Visual Voicemail in a Nutshell

Visual voicemail is a feature that allows you to do the following: 

  • Receive and listen to messages in any order
  • Scroll through messages visually
  • Save, archive or delete messages by touch
  • Get transcription of messages (for most)
  • Send voice messages via email or text

If you own an iPhone, you've likely been using visual voicemail already. It comes standard with iOS, and looks like this: 

Though transcription is not always totally accurate (the above changed "Dr. Dent's office" to "Dr. dental office"), for the most part visual voicemail is exceedingly easy to use on iPhones. Visual voicemail tends to be an add-on for android phones, in the form of an app that is downloadable from the Google Play store. The major carriers all offer downloads of their own visual voicemail apps.

Do I Really Need It? 

After years of using visual voicemail on my iPhone, I can't imagine going back to regular voicemail. The following are some ways that visual voicemail beats basic voicemail: 

  1. The ability to quickly do a visual scan of your messages and find specific ones. Not having to withstand the pain of listening to unwanted or annoying message to get to what you need is worth the price of admission, for me anyway. 
  2. Transcription means you don't have to actually listen to the messages to get what you need from them. The message above is a good example: a quick glance told me that it related to an upcoming medical appointment, and I only had to read the first three lines. 
  3. No need to dial a number to get your messages. It may sound silly, but I used to hate having to do this, to the point that I'd avoid it until my inbox was full. No more. 
  4. The ability to quickly email or text voice messages to yourself or someone else. This is handy if you want to forward along a specific message instead of taking the time to explain it to someone. Sure, there are ways to forward messages via basic (non-visual) voicemail, but it's probably more involved. 

In sum, I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that if you're not already using visual voicemail, you should be. It eliminates much of the pain of traditional voicemail. 



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